What are the Risks of Infection with Custom PMMA Cheek Implants?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I’m in the middle of preparing for a surgery. I will be getting custom PMMA cheek implants modelled off a 3D printed model of my skull. I’m planning on widening my face a little bit and hoping that this will improve my sagging cheeks from my zygoma reduction procedure.

I understand that all implants have a risk of infection and that the highest risk time is in the early post-operative period. However, how common is it for facial implants to get infected without good reason in the long-term?

From my understanding and research, I understand that dental anesthetic or fillers in the implant capsule could potentially inoculate the implant with bacteria and subsequently get an infection. I’ve read about patient experiences where Medpor implants get infected out of the blue years after surgery. Is it possible for an infection to pop out of nowhere without reason?

A: In all due respect these are questions you should be asking the surgeon who is going to perform the procedure. Presumably they have both the skill to not only do the procedure but also the experience to know what the long-term risks are.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana